We’ve got a cracking week ahead of us for the PGA Tour’s flagship event The Players Championship and it’s time to take a look at the raft of speciality markets that Paddy have priced up for us.
Firstly looking at the First Round Leader market and as always the place to start here is with the weather forecast, where conditions will be relatively favourable all day. However, what wind there is will pick up as the day progresses so I would prefer to have a couple of guys from the morning wave on side.
The first of two to catch me eye is Sepp Straka @ 150/1 where Paddy is paying to 7 places. Those who have read my main preview will know that I am keen on Straka to have a strong debut week at TPC Sawgrass as I feel his solid tee to green game will be a perfect fit.
I was delighted to see the Austrian drawn to go out in the first group of the day at 11.40am UK Time as he will get the best of the greens and conditions as a whole.
If Straka is to have the week I am hoping for it is likely that it will come from a fast start and having been fifth after day one at the US Open last summer at Pebble Beach, we know that he is not afraid to mix it in the big league in the opening skirmishes.
Alongside Straka, I shall play Cameron Tringale @ 100/1 who tees off at 11.51am UK time. Still winless on the PGA Tour, Tringale is not someone who I would have great faith in on a Sunday. However currently sitting fifth on tour in the ‘early round one scoring averages’ he is clearly comfortable in the calm of Thursday mornings.
He was co-leader at this venue after day one in 2016 after opening up with a 65. Tringale has quietly been putting a solid season together and I am happy to have him on side at the prices.
The ‘Top Rest Of The World’ market covers a field of 30 or so non-American and non-European players.
It features one of my outright picks in Hideki Matsuyama, but with Paddy paying to four places each-way, there is scope for some value elsewhere as aside from Matsuyama, some of the market leaders are vulnerable.
My suspicion is that Im – who missed the cut here last year on debut – could be jaded after two gruelling weeks. Jason Day once again withdrew with a back problem last week and March Leishman’s record at Sawgrass is relatively poor.
So Danny Lee at 35/1. Lee played really well last week at Bay Hill to finish fifth and having already finished second in the CJ Cup earlier this season on home soil, he is on his way to a strong campaign. He finished seventh here two years ago and I can see him building on last week and putting in another strong effort.
Debutants do not have a strong record here from a winning perspective, but everything points to TPC Sawgrass being a course that should suit Morikawa’s game perfectly. A cut-making machine who is yet to have a weekend off since joining the PGA Tour, the young American sits fourth in strokes-gained-approach-to-the-green and his stellar iron play should serve him well.
Morikawa hung in really well at Bay Hill last week to finish ninth and I expect a strong debut effort from at TPC this week.
Ryder Cup legend Poulter has finished no worse than 32nd in his last four starts worldwide. In a Ryder Cup year he will see this venue as one where he can make a big leap in the qualification standings, having finished second at the venue before.
He makes plenty of appeal for a top 20 finish at 13/2.
*Prices are correct at time of publishing but are as fluid as Rory McIlroy’s swing